The Revolt of the Canadian Truckers

Canada’s Freedom Convoy started three weeks back with truckers gathering in Ottawa to protest a law which required that they get vaccinated before returning to Canada. 

What are the protestors, when well-over 80 percent of truckers have been vaccinated? According to one reporter, who spoke with dozens of protestors, it is less about mandates as such and more about “a belief that nothing will ever go back to normal”; a belief that the government, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Media, Big Tech, Big Pharma are ganging up on them.

Truckers complain of inflation and are demonized for being dumb and irrational. The elites that depend on truckers to bring them the goods, but tell them how to live their lives without giving them any control over it all make them feel inadequate. A protester said, emphatically, that there is a powerful group who can create panic in the masses and steal public funds.

I think of trucker protests as Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and the Tea Party in 2009. Whatever event sparked them, each one quickly became more powerful and expressed an overwhelming anger not only at the overspending, tax cuts, income inequalities, police brutality and police brutality but also at governments, cultural elites, that seem at best to have little regard for ordinary people and, at worst, downright wicked.

These movements represent what Martin Gurri (ex-CIA analyst, current Mercatus Center visiting fellow) wrote about in Revolt of the Public, and the Crisis of Authority: The New Millennium. The elites and governments have both lost their way People trust in you and place their faith in youThey supposedly serve. The rise of social media, along with other communication channels, has empowered protest movements that have authenticity, are decentralized, and lack leadership, at least in the initial stages. Protests like these are better at protesting the status quo and are more effective at communicating anger. Contemporary protest movements often fail to make a significant impact after they have made a strong entrance.

This was the case for the Tea Party. It started out as an uprising against bank bailouts and wild spending during the financial crisis. The protest movement saw hundreds of thousands marching in the streets across the country including large demonstrations in Washington DC. With its straightforward message about controlling government spending, and making people accountable for their bad choices, it captured libertarians’ imagination. Capitalism means a system of profit. LossTea Party members stressed that they oppose the idea of “privatizing profit and socializing loss” for large firms such as GM or neighbors who have overbought in housing.

The Tea Party got a handful of people elected to Congress in 2010 and 2012, including Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.He is cheering for the Canadian truckers, and calling for an American Freedom Convoy. The Tea Party eventually faded to insignificance, impotence due to its inability to channel frustration and negativity. It quickly became part of the Republican Party which was unable to cut government’s size and scope.

The Canadian Freedom Convoy will likely suffer a similar fate—and its American counterpart may never even materialize. While some protest movements were more effective in pushing an agenda than others, they all lost their urgency and effectiveness when they became more centralized or more tied to partisan politics. JWet as the heads of their protesting governments, leaders from Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March and Time’s Up misused their power and lost moral authority to harm their cause.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that new protest movements aren’t important. It’s far from true.

EEven if the stated goals are not achieved, the opposition to the status quo is still a blow against it. The cumulative impact of these actions will cause governments and elites in the future to become even more accountable to those they rely upon. The tipping point at which the seemingly impossible is possible becomes inevitable, just like the collapse communism.

In a country where arbitrary COVID policies still run rampant; trust and confidence in government, business, and organized religion continues to fall; inflation is at a 40-year high; and just 17 percent of us are satisfied with the way things are going, expect new movements to keep rising up.

We are a society that is like Johnny Strabler, Marlon Brando’s character in The Wild One. A woman asked him “Hey Johnny”: “What are you fighting against?” He replied with a laconic and iconic answer: “Whaddya got?” Although we may not be able to determine the right way forward, that doesn’t prevent us from moving into the future.

Nick Gillespie wrote this article. Regan Taylor did the video editing.

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Music credits: Ian Post via, “Another Round of Glory” and “Once And For All”.